THE FREEZE

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Sometimes when you think you have to do something, you have to do nothing… except feel. 

I responded to Stevie’s cool email response that he signed off so impersonally and formally with his first and last name. I stood up contesting such treatment, erecting boundaries for the very first time. He’s the little brother I protected by never telling him the truth about his brothers. And when I did finally tell him by sending a link to my book, he said he never received it. 

The confusion settled inside me— ice melted into tears. Indignation at such treatment spewed like a balloon releasing air, leaving pain in its place, along with a pervasive sadness and crushing loss. 

It hurts that we know each so little.

My belief was that the three out of seven siblings who never attacked me sexually were three I could still relate to and feel safe with. That is not so. They are part of the conspiracy to keep me down, to keep me quiet, to kill with silence to insure their own good names and pretend what is, is not.

FAMILY?

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My younger brother Stevie called only to request money for savings bonds for Chet’s grandchildren. He and the other three, Don, Seth and Tom, seem to have guilt over the estrangement they’ve had. They want to say it’s from the Wilkins family. He said he knows I had a complicated relationship with Chet. Complicated relationship?  Wilkins family? That is not my family. 

Apparently he is flying to Texas to a funeral for a sibling he hasn’t seen or heard from in 30 years. He is terribly misguided and I believe is trying to relieve his guilt with money. He need not feel guilty. Communication goes both ways. It’s not a one way street. 

Stevie didn’t ask how I was doing nor mention anything about my hospital stay that I am sure his wife told him about. He didn’t call at the time either. Who are these people? Family? 

I chatted briefly and after telling him ‘No, I don’t feel obligated to do that,’ we ended the conversation. I then emailed him. I still cannot mouth the words of what I’ve been through, but I write. It’s the first time I have boldly stated the facts directly to him, though I assume he has read my book having sent the link to him more than a year ago.   

I know you mean well, but I didn’t have a complicated relationship with Chet. He abused me over and over for a period of at least two years with plenty of other horrid stuff, just like Dan, and Tom. I still suffer the aftereffects and unfortunately always will. Things were taken I can’t get back, like innocence and trust for starters. I leave my body because it’s too hard to be in it. I suffer from PTSD which has never gone away. I forgave them all even though not one has said they are sorry, nor has anyone else, those that knew and did nothing. I do not call them by anything except sibling. Brothers love, protect and cherish, not attack.

Love ya little brother,

Patricia

S.A.D.

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Winter grinds down upon me like an iron vise, despite a day of 55 degree temps. I force myself out the door to do laps. Lap five sitting by the frozen creek does not bring the same fullness or relief that fills me when the silence wraps me like a warm blanket. The silence chills me further. I walk back up the gentle slope to the house still slightly surprised at how just walking causes my heart to pound and my breath to come harder. Maybe it’s the low iron levels because other levels have almost reached normal levels. The internal bleeding seems to have stopped. For now.

The fresh air and exercise brings a lift from the purgatory winter brings, too many days of dark clouds and no sun. I tell myself over and over how grateful I should be, remembering how I craved just to be home when hospitalized. And that helps. I am so glad to be here with Samuel and little Cindy. We’ve had an entire extra day with her because she has a cold and nursery school would be too much. But even her presence won’t crack my ice. She gravitates to Samuel who plays with her endlessly and I smile, coming present, knowing how quiet this house would be without them both.

So I’m OK. This winter stuff is just something I go through each year. There’s been a few years it hits so hard I need help shuffling through it without drowning, but not this year. This is the usual. I use my morning full spectrum lights as I catch the first twenty minutes of the news with Gail and Charlie Rose. Then I move on to other things; mosaics, baking, some cleaning, and as always, meditation and exercise.

PEACEFUL JOY

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In trying to repair an estrangement with my brother Don over the phone, he tells me, “Chet died.” Don and I have not been close since my mother died when we quarreled bitterly over her care almost seven years ago.

I pause. No feelings. A fact was stated. I wait a few seconds in respect, and restart the conversation. I hadn’t read the email sent from another sibling which explained a little more, more than I cared to hear or needed to know. After hanging up, I was still devoid of feeling.

The studio calls me. Still dark out, I turn on the soft light over the workbench, then the music. The reds and oranges of this new butterfly seem to match my fiery mood of late and the upcoming February Valentine’s Day, both by accident. I just wanted to do red. Or is it an accident?

My work often coincides with my life. The beautiful tile cutter my eldest son Shane bought me for Christmas years back was returned, but I didn’t tell him. His gifts are so thoughtful and specific to the recipient. But I like to find homes for the broken shards just as they are. Like me. My pieces, no matter how shattered, do fit back together making a beautiful whole.

As I work, one part of me, and it must be the little girl who never feels safe, says, “Three down, one to go.” Or not. It is just a passing thought with no vengeance or malice. A primal need for things to be made right, for justice to be served. Seems it rarely is. 

I understand the thought. The world is not a safe place with them still in it. Yet with almost all gone, it is still not safe because I know human nature and what others are truly capable of, and I am wary.

I’m at peace. It is not my worry that he has died at 68 from a heart attack, completely detached from what little family life of origin goes on here while he lived the last thirty years in Texas. People die. I have no idea if I’ll make it that far. Sad as that is. And I do feel sad, not just for him but the fucked up family I was in, each one hurled out into the world feeling unloved or cared for.

That is sad and does create a scratchy scraping on my inner, tender linings. It is odd how a bond existed. And early on we did have an unusual bond. I didn’t hate him, but rather what he did.

My hate was at Tom’s treatment of me. Tom’s attack occurred only once, but the confusion and veiled rejection coming from him throughout the years is what has had the potential to destroy me. And it is why I cut myself off from ‘family gatherings.’ I’m the oddity, the outcast, the one who wouldn’t attend. And the functions I did attend were fraught with anxiety and hyper-vigilance.

The force of my beliefs about child rearing being the only and best job there is, screams out its truth once again. I am sad our parents pumped out babies like a factory, too drunk to go to the drawer for a condom. Each grew up so messed up and could have been so much more, and so much happier, or at least at peace, had basic emotional needs been met. 

My day began with Shane calling on his way to work as he often does, discussing family life, and all the little intricacies that make me smile. How the librarian complimented his son, my grandson William, saying how polite and caring he is of others. How lacrosse, basketball, and cub scouts is going. I love having a connection so special with my son.

And lo and behold, now that my other son, Cory, has come back across the pond, he also called from Boston and chatted with me as he drove to do errands. Not something he could do from London. My sons are out living full lives, loving life, working hard, and doing so much more and so much better than I did at their age. That’s something.

I kept going inside myself, searching out my feelings, waiting for some type of feeling or grief. But no. I separated internally a long time ago. I let go of him, the rage, I forgave. There was never a discussion about it between us.

I believe he felt bad about his past and lived a hellish life.  In later years I know nothing. Just that I am glad he never moved back here. He was mixed up, and I really hold no ill will.  May he rest in peace, even though I still suffer from the horrors he inflicted upon me. The sexual things he did when I was such a little girl were atrocities to a child whose days were spent playing with dolls.

There’s no longer that twisted thing that I used to feel. The sadness about all the siblings that attacked me. If only I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have attacked me, and everything would be fine. They could all be a family. 

I worked hard for this life I created. I don’t feel bad because he couldn’t or didn’t. Therapy exists for everyone. The money, time, and years I invested into it has served me well and has kept me alive.

I have earned what I have fought for; life, pleasure, and a peaceful joy, though I still suffer the after effects of what they have done; the over-eating driving me to a butchery surgery which is now causing complications.

Unfortunately many other complicated challenges exist which haven’t gone away with time. They became cemented into my being and neural pathways at an early age, for instance the resurgence of adrenaline which spikes easily and too often, derailing this peaceful life no matter how hard I try to protect myself from it. 

I wish things could have been different, but they weren’t. That is my sadness. 

EATING

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My Christmas bulb in bloom!

I’m eating. I don’t mean from hunger. I know why. The PT secretary threw my receipt at me. My only satisfaction is that it rolled off the counter down onto her desk and she had to put it back up again.

When she began to harangue me from the week before I told her “No more from you. It goes nowhere. When you’re finished writing it up, let me know.”

And I sat down.

The throwing came when she threw it up on the counter for me to sign. My hands shook as I handed it back to her and quietly said, “The only thing you owe me is an apology.”

This is same one who walked away the week prior because I protested an overcharge. I know intellectually that her lack of professionalism and courtesy is her problem, not mine.

Yet there it is. I eat when I am treated badly, when I feel bad despite what my thoughts tell me, that she’s in the wrong, childish, and rude. And you need not feel bad about other’s nastiness.

Yet I do. And my go to relief is food. Except that it’s not. It makes me feel as bad, just in other ways. Self-hate ways. But so does being treated badly. A throw back from childhood of course, when atrocities to my body were supposed to be kept silent, and bore on my own tiny shoulders. Of course I’d grow to allow transgressions, though lessor ones, and feel wrong, bad and somehow to blame.

My appointment with the specialist was unfortunately later the same day, a day that for the first time enough snow had fallen that Samuel had to fire up the snow-blower. Even though Samuel drove, I fretted over snowy conditions, and that a first time patient was allotted only 15 minutes, and more worries over seeing a surgeon. You know what surgeons like to do. Lastly, I’ve seen so many medical people in the past few months, each with their own opposing opinions that one more is about tipping me over the edge.

I prepared the day ahead by typing out all the tests and procedures I’ve had lately. Three CAT scans in one year to rule out diverticulitis. Strike three, strike OUT! I should have said NO to that last one in the ER. No more. I don’t have DIVERTICULITIS.  

I liked him almost immediately, especially when he said surgery, if that’s even needed, isn’t even anything to consider at this point. He didn’t rush me. And he didn’t need the paperwork I had worked so diligently on because, miracle upon miracle, he had taken time prior to read my history. 

When my ‘stress tears’ fell he said, “I don’t know why you’re crying.”

“I’m scared! It’s scary to be bleeding and not know where,” I immediately answered, wiping my eyes.

He looked me in the eyes and discussed what was going on and how to treat it for now. He put me at ease. I have another medication to take 4 times a day which will help heal whatever is bleeding. OK, I’ll need a notebook for that.  

His ability to pinpoint where the bleed is came down to, “Anywhere from mouth to butt.”

How can I not like this guy? I like, no, need, directness, even if I don’t like what I hear.

He also said, probably based on his assessment of my stress, “You’ll either get better, or you won’t.” 

Now others may not like or appreciate such a statement, but I had to laugh out-loud and so did Samuel. It’s not easy to get a laugh out of me lately.

But yesterday took its toll. After luxuriating in several weeks of good sleep because my arm calmed down along with my fears, I woke. And the secretary’s rudeness invaded my thoughts. I gave up and came out to join the 3 am news team, took a pill that makes me groggy the next day…and I ate.

I haven’t been overeating since the hospital stays. I’ve been very careful. But I’m back on track. Because after a groggy morning of feeling crappy and eating too much for breakfast, I remembered my work. Take care of yourself, be loving. Being loving is asking, what can I do that best takes care of me? Eating right, taking the medications, doing my exercises, using a softer approach by remembering just how hard this past year has been and all I’ve had to cope with.

I began to feel better. Not because of what anyone else did or didn’t do, because an apology will not likely be forthcoming from the secretary, but because of how I talk to myself and treat myself.

Back to basics.

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Nosy Molly had to hop up and see what I was doing!

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